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Stars on Chinese flags at Olympics flawed

August 9, 2016

The Rio Olympic Committee is looking into replacing China's flags that are being used at medal ceremonies. Chinese citizens complained about flaws in certain details of the flag, namely its smaller stars.

Chinese flag at Rio Olympics
Image: Getty Images/AFP/F. Fife

The stars on the Chinese flags featured at the Olympic Games during events like the swimming and shooting medal ceremonies were found to be wrongly positioned, prompting a diplomatic protest and heated online debate.

Instead of the upwards parallel alignment seen during the Olympic Games, the four smaller stars on the Chinese flag are meant to tilt in a radial manner from top to bottom in a semicircle to point at the one large star at the upper left-hand corner of the flag.

People in China have complained about the mishap, but the Chinese Olympic Committee did not yet explain the mistake.

"All the flags used by the Rio 2016 committee are approved by the National Olympic Committees. We are working with the Chinese delegation to find a solution to this issue," a spokeswoman for the committee told the Reuters news agency.

Chinese flag at Rio Olympics
Many took to social media to express their outrage at the wrong depiction of the Chinese flag at the Olympic GamesImage: Reuters

China's consulate-general in Rio de Janeiro meanwhile said in a social media posting that it had made a formal complaint to the Brazilian organizing committee. The organizers apologized for the mistake and said they would contact the manufacturer to have it corrected. They also denied reports that the flags were "made in China."

A symbol of national pride

The official design of the flag is intended to symbolize the four classes of Chinese society all pointing at the big star representing the Communist Party, as defined by Former Chairman of the Communist Party of China Mao Zedong in 1949. The four classes are workers, farmers, urban petty bourgeoisie, and national bourgeoisie.

China has already won six medals so far at the Games, clinching its first gold medal at the 2016 Olympics with first-time Olympian Zhang Mengxue's win at the women's 10-meter air pistol event. China's 416-strong athlete delegation is competing in 210 events over 26 sports at the 2016 Olympic Games, and judging by its performance at the 2012 London Olympics could likely be among the top three medal-winning countries once more.

With a great deal of financial backing of the Rio Games also originating from China, there may be more at stake than just a slight oversight.

ss/msh (AFP, Reuters)